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This seemingly low-budget film is among my favorite martial-arts films of all time even though the plot is a shameless copy of "Enter the Dragon"----minus Dragon's production values. You have the leader of a cult on his own island leading hundreds of followers. At the island, the daughter of a senator is among the followers and Joe Lewis is recruited to get her out. To do that, he enlists the help of five colleagues.
I think what makes this movie stand above most martial arts films is that you have a charismatic group of martial artists working as a team when they infiltrate the bad guy's island. Director Robert Clouse, who also directed Enter the Dragon, really played up the "team" factor and I think that's the element that makes the film work.
The actors aren't anything extraordinary, but anyone looking for Brandos or Oliviers here deserve what they get. I was surprised this was only one of two movies Joe Lewis ever made. I certainly thought he had the look and personality to carry a few more martial-arts films, but hey.
Richard Norton, who played Ezekial, went on to great success in the straight-to-video world. A charismatic performer, he made a few pretty entertaining martial arts films over the years, some with fellow martial-artist Cynthia Rothrock.
My favorite of the team was Sonny Barnes, who plays the cheesily named "Lockjaw". Barnes never really did much else after this, except for a Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney music video, which is a shame because I really enjoyed him in this.
You can tell the budget went to the famous martial-artists in its cast because the locales and everything else in the film looks cheap.
Aside from Lewis and Norton, you also have Benny "The Jet" Urquidez in the cast, and Master Bong Soo Han, who played the villain. Some martial-arts fans will recognize Han as Billy Jack's partner in "Trial of Billy Jack" during the climatic fight scene.
As for the fight scenes, many of them are really good. Clouse takes full advantage of the fact he has an A-Team of martial-artists as stars and shows off their skills many times throughout the film, (even though most of the time they are fighting what are obviously a bunch of wannabe extras). Some of the stunts work, others bomb, but in the end, I really liked the movie. I also really liked the catchy title theme by William Goldstein. Some of my buddies think it's cheesy as hell, but I get a kick out of it.
I wonder if Quentin Tarantino had this film in mind when wrote dialogue for "Pulp Fiction". In that film, Uma Thurman's character, Mia, said she starred in a pilot called, "Fox Force Five".
Anyway, this is enjoyable for fans of the genre. The team factor makes all the difference, and there seemed to be potential here for sequels since I really enjoyed watching the cast work together.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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